I am on my way home from church. As my friend and I step out from the friendly bustle of Saint Ebbes Church, we breathe in the chilled air and open our umbrellas in unison; it is a wet and soggy day.
We chat and laugh as we ascend the streets towards the center of town. I consider how silly it was to wear ballet flats, as I tenuously traverse between puddles. The cobblestones shine in the drizzle, old and brilliant, and the street venders huddle in happy array under their booths with new souvenirs and overpriced post cards. As we turn the corner, we enter a fairly quiet street, and hear the old comforting and haunting tune of Silent Night straining from the saxophone of a young boy playing on the corner. Someone drops a coin in his instrument case. The boy looks to his father, and the father smiles encouragingly.
A block, a smile, a wishing of good days, and my friend’s path parts with mine. As I turn the corner, I am met with the humming, lively and loud welcome of Highstreet. Every shop window and corner sign seems to call out “Come in! Come in and say hello!” The shop windows are dressed for Christmas. Mannequins sit clothed in luxuriously soft fur collars and in thick woolen sweaters ready to protect from the English chill. The cafe signs promise hot tea and hot chocolate, their coffee house jazz music slipping into the street, fresh pastries smiling from the windows promising warmth and thawing for cold fingers. As I pass by the pub, I catch the faint aroma of mulled wine, citrus and spices, wafting out, beckoning with inviting and steamy fingers.
There are no cars on this street, so pedestrians weave in and out on both sides of the street in a disorderly and dance of life. As people pass by each expression holds a world of meaning, and yet enters and forms the life of the street. Some pass kicking rocks, some pass singing songs. I’m on my way back from church, some are on their way to the pub. We are all here and we are all cold, and we are all on the same road.
On the corner beneath and awning a merry group of men play christmas carols. They nod and wink as passersby look on. Some stop and listen. In little clumps friends huddle under umbrellas, holding eachothers arms and happily shivering. From far away it presents a happy scene, this bouquet of umbrellas, bright and colorful, round and patterned. Did you know an umbrella can be a fashion statement?
As I finally reached the end of the street and continued my tromp home, I bookmarked the moment. These are the small but grand memories I want to keep in my soul as I head back to America. They remind me of the small delights of being alive, and communion of life we can share with oneanother; no matter how different we are, we all walk the same streets and have the same rain make our socks soggy and the same music make us want to dance.
I’ve reached my destination for the day, and perhaps many of my streetfellows have met theirs. But as I’m off to put on warm socks, and drink hot tea and write a paper, I feel a gladness. It is a lovely world we live in, for all its darkness, there is still joviality, laughter, and rainy days. I wish my Highstreet companions, and you wherever you are, a blessed and a dancing day!
I hope it involves tea.